1) Asking for water at a restaurant or café and waiting until they siphon it from the Dead Sea. The water supply in Israel is low, so unlike in the West (namely the US), you almost always have to ask for it. Water conservation in action!
2) The lax culture - you can sit at a place for hours and nobody rushes you out or places the bill on your table, until you request it.
3) Everyone's confusion with the bus system. People will offer advice, when they themselves have no idea of the bus lines or directions.
4) Cab drivers who are insistent I find a man here and make aliyah.
5) Me practicing my Hebrew, the other person detecting my accent and responding in English.
6) I have yet to experience bad food and coffee here. The coffee shop scene here is incredible! There are about three to a block and it is always hip to go grab coffee with someone at anytime day or night.
7) The laughable, yet very endearing attempts at spelling things in English and Italian. Dolce, which means "sweet" in Italian has become Dolche, or Bacio ("kiss") is now Bacho. The Israelis don't seem to comprehend the different sounds and spellings of the language, which is especially humorous when there is a store in Dizengoff plastered in bold face with the incorrect spelling.
8) The fashion sense of the young people today. Everyone has apparently been reading their
H&M catalogue – or rather the Israeli equivalent Castro – and keeping tabs on NY fashion. Jean shorts and a nice tucked in shirt, camisole or tank top are all the rage, as are short summer dresses and the Parisian striped shirts. It is a festivity of color and patterns as you walk the streets. (Downside: older people also try to emulate this style and let's just say it doesn't quite suit them).
9) The crazies flock to me. I must have good crazedar or something. Either the super political or just batty characters somehow always end up sitting near me.
10) The Invisible barrier between those who serve in the army and those who don't. There is a certain camaraderie developed in these formative years from the transition from a certain type of juvenile adolescence to adulthood. One that separates the former soldiers from the rest of society and unites and bonds them. They seemingly deem those who haven't served – to a certain extent – as still in the juvenile phase of life.
11) Dogs "freely" wandering on a leash, of course, in a shopping mall. Cats roaming the street. in search of their next milk fix.
12) The normalcy of men walking the streets shirtless. Women don't have this luxury.
13) Holey in the Holy Land: Clogs are all the rage here. The versatile-hole shoe, is both housewear and streetwear. The extinct brand just about everywhere in the US couldn't be more popular here.
14) Israeli TV is my new addiction. Since arriving here two and a half short months ago, I have developed a somewhat severe obsession with Israeli pseudo "reality" TV. I've been closely following "Kochav Nolad" (Israel's "American Idol"). I'm currently rooting for both Ohad and Diana but this is bound to change.
Adi Ashkenazi, a female comedian that performs stand-up, as part of the show, paired with her documented experiences. In one episode, she decides to "do Vegas," while there she does the standard gambling, visiting a strip club (where she meets and befriends an Israeli woman) and gets a quickie marriage through a drive-through. I haven't fully grasped Israeli "Survivor". I started watching it, then fell asleep and when I woke up five hours later it was still on T.V. It's a show that NEVER ends!
15) The beach scene is both humorous and relaxing (as I've already noted in previous blog posts).
16) Cultural Faux Pas are nonexistent. Express what you feel, say what you want - there are no misgivings or hurt feelings.
17) No tipping on your credit card. You can pay your bill/check with the card, but think again if you're going to tip your waiter/ess with it. Tips are paid in money – coin or bills.
18) Intermission in the middle of movies at certain theaters. Right at the climax of the film, suddenly the film stops and people will go to the restroom or grab something to eat and drink from the concession stand. Fifteen minutes later the film will start up again. Ridiculous and funny.
19) Raindrops keep falling on my head - just kidding. it NEVER ever (or once in a blue moon) rains here. But, as you walk the sidewalk you will feel the soft pit a pat from the air conditioning units hanging out of the windows above.
20) The level of trust and belief in your fellow human. In the US, to enter certain events someone will ask for identification to verify that you are indeed the person they are expecting. In Israel, I have found that just saying my name is enough. There is not that extra level of disbelief or distrust that often goes with the American mentality.
Though this is worth mentioning, it is not in fact the 20th thing I will miss about Israel. The final and perhaps most important element of Israeli society I will miss has nothing to do with the people, but has everything to do with the climate....and that is the sweltering heat and humidity that unites us all. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard someone ask someone "How they are?" and gotten some form of the following response: "Hot," "Dripping with sweat," "What's with this heat/humidity?" I've seen people enter museums just for the air condition.
In brief, as the saying goes, "If you can't stand the heat…" Well, then you are just like every Israeli.
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